“There is no railway journey of comparable length anywhere in the world.The Trans-Siberian is the big train ride. All the rest are peanuts.” Eric Newby wrote in his book “The Big Red Train Ride” published in 1978. 37 years later, here I am, a crazy trainlover booking a ticket on the same train, determined to decide whether or not our beloved British author was right.
TransSiberian Railway ; the railway line crossing 1/3 of our planet – almost 8,000 km – cfollowing a 6-days route, connecting Russia from one side to the other.
There are two ways to cross Siberia riding the TransSiberian; either you jump on the continuous line or you choose the line that makes several stops along the way, offering you the chance to hop on and off between cities. You should choose the latter; it is undoubtedly not only the cheapest but the most interesting way to travel, whether you only have 15 days or a whole month to travel. Remember! The more the stopovers, the better!
The original route is the one from Moscow to Vladivostok, a 6 -day trip across Siberia, baring as it’s only normal the name Trans-Siberian! The second route leaves Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia – going across almost all Russia. Trans-Mongolian is the route I’m following and it is considered to be the most fascinating as it crosses 3 countries in just 6 days. There’s also the Trans-Manchurian route heading from Russia to China without passing Mongolia. Whichever one you pick, make sure you carefully plan your stops beforehand. There are unique places along the way, worth visiting even for just a day.
Check out the route
So, TransSiberian without stopovers is nothing like the real thing! That said, after deciding the route you’ll follow, you should start considering which will be your stops during the trip. Some of the most beautiful cities you’ll have the chance to see are; Ekaterinburg (the city that connects Europe to Asia), Novosibirsk (2-day trip from Moscow – worth visiting for rafting or trekking at Altai Mountains), Krasnoyarsk (3-day trip from Moscow – the climbing mecca for all the mountain-lovers out there), Irkutsk (4 days in-train – definite must, even just for a deep in the world’s deepest lake – Baikal Lake) Ulan-Ude (4 and a half days in the train – the first Asian city you’ll encounter), Vladivostok (6 days inside the train, the biggest Russian port), Ulan-Bataar (5-day non-stop trip), Mongolia and – of course – Beijing in China if you’ve chosen the Trans-Mongolian route.
There are several ways to book your tickets. Either book them beforehand at a travel agency or buy them upon your arrival in Moscow (or Beijing), directly at the train station. If you choose the non-stop Trans Siberian route with final destination Vladivostok, the ticket costs around 300 in 2nd class (in a 4-berth compartment) or 150 in 3rd class, although I won’t recommend you booking a 3rd-class ticket.
If you choose the Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian non-stop routes, the price of the ticket is 500. A route with several stopovers raises the price as you’ll have to hop and off different trains – you’ll need a total of 800 for one ticke in a 4-berth compartment without breakfast or any other luxury whatsoever. You’re on a train after all, not a 5-star hotel!
Starting from this day and until the end of July, via Trainstories and under the hashtag #MyTransSiberianDream, I’ll provide you with all the essential information concerning this trip. Be it a life dream for many, due to the lack of greek references, many people are afraid to organise such a trip.
Follow me in order to learn how to book your ticket, explore your choices, avoid any bureaucracy obstacles and on the 3rd of July join me as my trip begins and my TransSiberian Dream finally becomes reality!
My choice of route
Before getting into details about organizing your trip and giving a few tips about it, let me share with you the route I’ll follow. I decided that my stops will be in Moscow, Irkutsk, Ulan-Bataar and of course, Beijing – note that I only have 15 days and I wanted to visit all the capitals along the way. If I had a couple days more, I’d definitely add some more stops.
Check out the map below to see my reference points from Athens to Beijing – a 5.500 km distance that I’ll travel alone although I did search for any co-travelers. I admit that I felt a bit anxious and worried at first but I’m really looking forward to it now! This will be a gift to myself for the 3-year anniversary of the blog; a suitable gift for the original Train…storiesfromyworld, created on the train to Milan a noon of August 2012, don’t you think?
Join my trainstories and begin the countdown; 15 days to go!